Scott Belyea’s 1965 Retro-Mod Corvette Sting Ray Convertible

Corvette Passion Finally Fulfilled

PHOTO CREDITS: Scott Belyea and Dustin Segura

As you are reading this, it means that somewhere in your past, the “Vette Virus” got you. For some of us, it happens when we’re kids or teenagers. For others, later in life. But once you’ve got it, it’s with you for life. Some can fulfill that passion early on, and others when they’re older.

Scott Belyea grew up in beautiful Santa Rosa, California in the 1960s. Back in the day, “Auto Shop” was an Industrial Arts course taught in high school, along with Wood Shop and Mechanical Drawing. Auto Shop taught boys (mostly) the basics of car care and simple maintenance. For young car guys who were passionately waiting to get their driver’s license, it was the place to be. In Scott’s case, working on a friend’s 1964 409 Impala made the class even more fun.

Yes, Scott had a mild interest in cars until the day he saw and HEARD a 1965 big-block 396 Corvette with side pipes rumble by. “WHAT’S THAT?!?!?” he said. Scott had just been stung by a Sting Ray.

In the spring of 1965 Chevrolet released their new big-block replacement for the old W-Series 348/409/427 truck engine. As a truck engine, the W-Series produced plenty of torque for industrial use but didn’t like high rpm’s. But Chevrolet had its eye on covert racing efforts and knew that the W-Series engine needed to go.

A prototype Mark-II 427 “porcupine engine” was dropped into Mickey Thompson’s 1963 Z06 Corvette and raced at the 1963 Daytona 250. The press immediately noticed the Mark-II’s distinctive sound and dubbed the engine, “Chevrolet’s Mystery Motor”. According to Corvette development engineer, Bill Tower, sorting out the durability problems with the new engine was very challenging. But by the spring of ’65, the new 396 Mark-IV Big-Block was available to the public.

Chevy engineers learned that the easiest route to big horsepower was simple – cubic inches. The 327 Fuelie was maxed out at 375 horsepower; the new 396 big-block had 425 horsepower and only cost $292; the Fuelie cost $538. And, to go along with the new brutish big-block, real side pipes were a $134 option. Many have pointed out that the side pips weren’t as efficient as the straight-through $37 Off-Road Exhaust, but they sounded awesome. Like many of us, Scott heard the call of the wild new big-block Corvette, and that was it!

The expression, “Life gets in the way” applies to most of us at various times of our lives. While Scott’s passion for a big-block ’65 Corvette started over 50 years ago, it never left him. Along the way, Scott satisfied his Corvette itch with a Bright Red C4 1990 Coupe and later a Black 2009 C6 Convertible. Continue reading “Scott Belyea’s 1965 Retro-Mod Corvette Sting Ray Convertible”